The Federal Government was shut down on the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration on Friday after the Senate failed to capture 60 votes needed to pass the four-week House GOP’s spending bill.
“A government shutdown was 100 percent avoidable. Completely avoidable. Now it is imminent,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor following the vote. “Perhaps across the aisle some of our Democratic colleagues are feeling proud of themselves, but what has their filibuster accomplished? . . . The answer is simple: Their very own government shutdown.”
Senate Democrats voted against the bill as part of a risky strategy to force Republicans to negotiate with them on a legislative fix for illegal “Dreamers” immigrants, by attaching a DACA fix to the spending bill. Only 50 senators voted in favor, falling well short of the 60 votes needed to proceed.
Only five Democrats voted for the bill — Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Doug Jones (Ala.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.). Four Republicans, on the other hand voted against the spending bill — Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Lindsey Graham (SC), Mike Lee (Utah), and Jeff Flake (AZ). Senator John McCain was absent due to battling brain cancer.
On Thursday night, the House approved a temporary spending bill to keep the government open, leaving it up to the Senate who delayed the vote until Friday evening. The vote was 230-197, with 11 Republicans voting against the measure, while six Democrats voted for it.
Afterward, House Speaker Paul Ryan urged Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer not to shut down the government.
“The only people standing in the way of keeping the government open are Senate Democrats,” Ryan said Thursday night.
The six Democrats who voted to supported the bill were Reps. Salud Carbajal (Calif.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Vicente González (Texas), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.). As for the 11 Republicans who voted against the measure were mostly members of the Freedom Caucus and two Florida Republicans — Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who wanted a immigrant solution brought into the bill.
Senate Democrats opposed the GOP spending bill that would have extended funding through February 16, as well as a six-year extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expires at the end of September.
McConnell delayed the vote until Friday evening as part of an effort to raise pressure on Democrats to change their mind.
Shortly before 9:30pm, Trump tweeted that a government shutdown was to occur while blaming Democrats for wanting the shutdown.
Not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border. Dems want a Shutdown in order to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2018
Both sides began pointing fingers to blame each other for the shutdown as neither side refused to negotiate. Democrats stuck to demands that any short-term spending legislation must include protections for “Dreamers.” Republicans in turn said they would not negotiate on immigration until Democrats gave them the votes needed to reopen the government.
Republicans argued that Democrats forced the government shutdown by helping Dreamers covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program than helping Americans.
Just minutes before the midnight deadline, White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement blaming Senate Democrats for putting “politics above national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans,” calling the shutdown the “Schumer Shutdown.”
“Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown,” the statement reads. “Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans. We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform. During this politically manufactured Schumer Shutdown, the President and his Administration will fight for and protect the American people.”
Democrats, on the other hand called the shutdown the “Trump shutdown,” arguing that Republicans are responsible since they are in control of the executive branch and Congress.
“Every American knows the Republican Party controls the White House, the Senate, the House,” Schumer said. “It’s their job to keep the government open.”
Early Friday afternoon, Schumer met with Trump for a 90-minute meeting.
“We had a long and detailed meeting,” Schumer said after the meeting.”We discussed all of the major outstanding issues. We made some progress, but we still have a good number of disagreements. The discussions will continue.”
However, Trump described the sit down on Twitter with Schumer as an “excellent preliminary meeting.”
Excellent preliminary meeting in Oval with @SenSchumer – working on solutions for Security and our great Military together with @SenateMajLdr McConnell and @SpeakerRyan. Making progress – four week extension would be best!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 19, 2018
Senator Majority Whip, John Cornyn said Trump rejected Schumer proposal of funding the government until Tuesday to allow negotiations to continue.
“The president told him to go back and talk to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and work it out,” Cornyn said.
McConnell offered a “motion to refer” early Saturday morning to amend the House GOP spending measure that would fund the government for three weeks instead of four weeks.
“I’ll be offering an amendment to change the date to Feb. 8. We will, unfortunately, not be able to get that vote tonight, but I will subsequently ask for a consent,” McConnell said.
The shutdown is only the fourth government closure in a quarter-century. It will only partially curb government operations. Uniformed service members, health inspectors, and law enforcement officers are set to work without pay.